President Biden on Tuesday harshly condemned the “abhorrent” terrorist attacks by Hamas against Israel as the death toll in the region climbed, and vowed that the U.S. would fully support the Israeli people.
Biden confirmed Americans are among those being held hostage by Hamas and outlined how his administration is supplying additional aid to Israel as it responds to the attacks over the weekend.
“There are moments in this life, and I mean this literally, when pure unadulterated evil is unleashed on this world. The people of Israel lived through one such moment this weekend,” Biden said in remarks from the White House’s State Dining Room.
Biden recounted the violent images coming out of Israel in recent days, including parents being killed as they tried to protect their children; young people being massacred while attending a music festival, babies being killed, women being raped, and grandparents being ripped from wheelchairs.
“It’s abhorrent,” Biden said. “The brutality of Hamas…brings to mind the worst rampages of ISIS. This is terrorism. But sadly, for the Jewish people, it’s not new.”
“So in this moment we must be crystal clear: We stand with Israel,” Biden added. “And we will make sure Israel has what it needs to take care of its citizens, defend itself and respond to this attack. There’s no justification for terrorism. There’s no excuse.”
More than 1,000 Israelis have died since Saturday, when Hamas, which controls Gaza, launched attacks on Israel. Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed in ensuing fighting in Gaza.
Biden has spoken three separate times with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since Saturday, including a call earlier Tuesday.
“I told him if the United States experienced what Israel is experiencing, our response would be swift, decisive and overwhelming,” Biden said of his call with Netanyahu.
Biden has met with his national security team each day since the crisis began unfolding, and the U.S. and European allies put out a statement on Monday affirming support for Israel.
The Biden administration has also repositioned military assets in the region to assist Israel and started sending munitions and interceptors to the Israelis to ensure their Iron Dome defense system has enough supplies. Israeli leaders said Tuesday they are planning to go on the offensive against Hamas.
Biden on Tuesday said he will ask Congress when it returns from recess “to take urgent action to fund the national security requirements of our critical partners.”
“This is not about party or politics. This is about the security of our world, security of the United States of America,” he said.
Biden is expected to tie funding for Israel to additional funding for Ukraine’s war effort, which the White House has struggled to pass with an increasing number of House Republicans not supporting it. Administration officials have also said they have existing appropriations and authority to support Israel without additional congressional action.
Potentially complicating matters is that the House is without a Speaker after Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was ousted from the role last week in a move led by a small number of Republicans. A minority of Republicans have expressed opposition to providing more aid to Ukraine, but support for Israel has faced no such resistance in the GOP-controlled House.